June 24, 2014

MDTTC Camp and Tactical Coaching

Yesterday was Day One of Week Two of our Ten Weeks of Camps at MDTTC. As I've blogged about, I'm in charge of the beginners and younger kids, a group of 6-7 this week, ranging in age from 5-9. As usual, we focused on the forehand on the first day, though we varied this for those who have had coaching and were more advanced. 

It always amazes me the range of skill in these players. Some kids struggle and struggle, while others pick it up about as fast as you can show them. The youngest in the camp, age five, started playing in the junior program I coach a few weeks ago. Because of his age and tiny size - he's small even for his age - I figured he wasn't quite ready for real games. So I put him in a group of three that would do various target practice games (knocking over cups, etc.) while the other four played "King of the Table." He begged to be with the group with the bigger kids playing "King of the Table," and I skeptically let him. He ended up being one of the dominant players. (There's another kid who's been to both weeks who's on the opposite end of the spectrum. It took six days for this player to make a successful serve, after a cumulative total of over an hour of trying.) 

There's a new type of coaching that I'm doing this week. There are two kids in the camp from out of town, Kaelin and Billy, ages 15 and 16 and both about 2000. Besides the regular six hours of daily training these two are taking an hour of tactics coaching during lunch break each day. (Lunch break is 1-3PM, so we still have an hour off.) Normally we teach tactics more or less "on the job," teaching it as the players play, both in practice matches and even more so in tournaments. I've also assigned many of my students and other players at MDTTC to read my book Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. (But you should not as then you might beat our players!!! No, don't even think of getting it. Put that credit card away!) Now I'm doing straight tactics coaching, and will do at least five hours of it, possibly more if we do some on the weekend. 

I put together an outline of what we should cover in these sessions, using my Tactics book as the guide. (Both of the players had already started reading it, but hadn't finished it.) We mostly just discussed the various subjects, though I grabbed my racket a number of times to give examples. We intentionally went off on tangents to discuss various situations. Tomorrow we're going to jump ahead and cover doubles as they are playing Under 4200 doubles at the U.S. Open next week, and are practicing it here in the camp. After that we'll get back to regular singles tactics, and gradually work from the theoretical to the specific. As we do so we'll also gradually move from discussion to table time. Below is what we covered in today's session.

  1. Tactical Thinking vs. Strategic Thinking. (Tactical thinking is how you use what you already have to win. Strategic Thinking is how you develop your game and playing style. We discussed the specifics of how these related to their games.)
  2. Tactics isn't about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. Tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.
  3. Tactical thinking is a habit
  4. Tactics are not rigid rules, just guidelines
  5. The myth of thinking too much. The problem is thinking at the wrong time.
  6. "The faster you play the more important subconscious tactical decisions become." - Werner Schlager
  7. Tactics and the Subconscious
  8. Much of strategic development is doing what's uncomfortable to make it comfortable. (Pushing short or counterlooping are examples.)
  9. Develop what you do well, and develop what you need to do well.
  10. Develop a "B" and "C" game.
  11. The book on your game.
  12. We discussed the current tactical and strategic thinking of both players, going over their playing styles, common tactics, and strategic thinking for how to develop their games. 

New Chinese Wonder Boy - Yu Ziyang

Here's the article (including a link to the 44-min video of the Japan Open Final) about Yu Ziyang, who turned 16 one month ago and follows on the footsteps of another Chinese 16-year-old, Fan Zhendong (world #4). Yu had a ranking of #180 before winning the Japan Open.

100-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

Former USATT President Sheri Pittman Cioroslan is doing an article every day during the last 100 days of Adham Sharara's ITTF presidency, counting downwards from 100. Previous ones are linked from the USATT News page, as well as in my past blogs. Thirty-one down, 69 to go!

  • Day 70: Adham Sharara Discusses the ITTF’s Commitment to Peace and Sport

Mind Pong to Raise Awareness for Brain Tumor Charity

Here's the article.

Tom Hiddleston's Table

Here he is with his unique sized pink table. He's an English actor best known as Loki in the Avengers movies.

Eight Stylish Guys Playing Table Tennis

Here's the article and photos

Send us your own coaching news!